It’s that time of year again: back to school! Another academic year is right around the corner and students and parents alike are beginning the prep work. Between school supplies, textbooks, and new outfits, back-to-school shopping can add up quickly. Most parents with children K-12 spend at least $500 on school supplies alone. Those rates only get higher as you move into the college years. Instead of panicking about back-to-school expenses, try out these budget hacks that will help save you hundreds.

Shop at home first

Many of us head straight to the store to pick up the obvious essentials: pens, paper, highlighters, notebooks, etc. However, if you take some time to go around your house, you may just be able to stock up for free. You will be surprised how many spare supplies you have laying around that could easily be used for school supplies. One sweep could leave you with a couple unused notebooks, a pack of pens, and folders for all your study needs.

Take advantage of the library

Instead of heading to the bookstore and splurging on books for school, check the library first. You will be surprised how many resources you are able to locate for free. Don’t forget that library’s aren’t just for books! Your school’s library network can be a treasure trove of film and music. Make sure to check yours out before you drop money on cable, video streaming services, or music platforms. 

Utilizing the library can save you so much on all your entertainment needs. You’ll end up with a few extra bucks in your pocket and possibly a long-term financially sustainable habit.

Buy off other students at the end of the year

Condensing an entire dorm room into a car filled with family members is a nearly impossible task, which means that a lot of college students are forced to leave behind valuable appliances before they head home. Chances are you can snag a mini-fridge, coffee maker, lamp, and the like off a fellow student at little to no cost. Whether you keep them for yourself or try to sell them, this method is a fool-proof way to save some dough.

Shop thrift and clearance stores

When you go about your school shopping, most head straight to the big name stores. However, you will be paying an extra premium for fancy designs and this season’s colors. Try shopping at a thrift or clearance store. You will be able to get all your school supplies at a fraction of the price. 

Photo By Ira Shpiller

Meal prep your lunches

No matter what grade you are in school, there’s always the decision to pack or to buy lunch. While the occasional lunch splurge isn’t going to break the bank, making it a daily habit will. Spending $10 or more everyday for lunch really adds up overtime especially if you are buying other meals too. Instead try meal prepping your lunches. Here are meals under $10 that will last you 3-4 lunches!

Whether you’re a parent of a young student or headed off to college, these are tips that anyone can use. With the cost of education already putting stress on your wallet, make these budget friendly habits to help take the edge off this school year! For a list of budget hacks for college students, click here!